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The Red Car: A Novel Hardcover – October 11, 2016
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“Sharp and fiery…The novel’s furious action keeps the pages snapping by, but each incident, at times each sentence, is bubbling with equally furious ideas…There is, now, a literary term for a book you can’t stop reading that makes you stop to think. It is The Red Car.”
- Daniel Handler, The New York Times Book Review
“A swift and magical read . . . . Spare, funny and deftly observant of what happens when our repressed emotions reach a violent precipice.”
- Maddie Crum, Huffington Post
“Pitch-perfect novel…Sprinkled with dark humor and many literary references, Dermansky’s novel is ultimately one of compassion, optimism, and fierce feminism, in which an unmoored young woman enmeshed in bad relationships with men resets her life path.”
- Los Angeles Times
“The Red Car is melancholy and introspective, but sharply witty and transgressive too, and it’s full of the intrepid gestures I so love in fiction, both by the characters and the writing itself. There’s a particular intellectual and emotional gratification to be found in this smart novel that so wonderfully blurs boundaries of reality, of past and present, of time and space. The Red Car is a remarkable book.”
- Natalie Bakopoulos, San Francisco Chronicle
“A dry, delightful fairy tale for grown-ups.”
“If you want to fall in love with a book almost at first sight (i.e. paragraph four) . . . read Marcy Dermansky’s The Red Car.”
“Dermansky’s writing is taut and smart. And it’s a thrill to cheer on Leah, that admirable badass, wherever the red car takes her next.”
- Amy Brady, Chicago Review of Books
“I've been waiting and waiting for a new book from Marcy Dermansky and finally that new book is here. The Red Car is taut and smart and strange and sweet and perfect. I want to eat this book or sew it to my skin or something.”
- Roxane Gay, author of The Untamed State and Bad Feminist
“Marcy Dermansky’s The Red Car is a wonder. Moving, mysterious and filled with dark, sly humor, it rustles under your skin and stays there. By the time I reached its shimmering final pages, I wanted to go right back to the beginning and start again.”
- Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me
“There are few writers who can do what Marcy Dermansky does so effortlessly in The Red Car, the way she pushes this story in such surprising and thrilling directions, never losing control, taking your breath away line by beautiful line. Dermansky writes with such unnerving clarity about grief, not just for the loss of a loved one, but for our own unexpected lives. A strange, unflinching, utterly amazing novel.”
- Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang
“A new book by the inimitable Marcy Dermansky is worth cheering for. The Red Car is droll, unflinching, and mysterious, a feat of efficient storytelling. I could not put it down. This novel mesmerized me.”
- Edan Lepucki, author of California
“I’ve long admired the work of Marcy Dermansky, and her latest is an absolute stunner. The Red Car is the very rare kind of novel that―with its urgency and intrigue and deep intelligence―will pin you to your chair and transport you utterly. Stop what you’re doing and read this book.”
- Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me
“Don’t be fooled by The Red Car’s brevity: it packs a serious punch. Dermansky’s vision is sharp and clear, pushing her beautifully realized protagonist, Leah, into the rapids on a journey of self-discovery. And we’re right there at her side, breathless, as she shakes herself awake. A tremendously moving story that feels true and important.”
- Cari Luna, author of The Revolution of Every Day
“In vivid, dreamlike prose. . . . Dermansky delivers a captivating novel about the pursuit of joy that combines dreamlike logic with dark humor, wry observation, and gritty feminism.”
- Kirkus (Starred Review)
“Sleek and polished . . . . Dermansky's short, punchy chapters keep the tightly written novel moving smoothly along, and flashbacks to her past add depth without slowing momentum.”
- Publishers Weekly
“[Dermansky’s] latest explores the many unwise decisions of her heroine, offering no solutions but encouraging us to hope that things will get better. Readers won’t be able to put this one down.”
- Andrea Kempf, Library Journal
“Dry, entertaining and crookedly insightful. . . . [The Red Car] is on one level, a fairy tale complete with fairy godmother, and on another, a whispered goad to the reader: Live the life you really want.”
- Marion Winik, Newsday
“With the release of her incandescent third novel The Red Car, she’s poised to ride the current wave of fascination with these anti-heroines.”
- Doree Shafrir, Buzzfeed
About the Author
Marcy Dermansky is the author of the novels The Red Car, Bad Marie, and Twins. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, Salon, the Indiana Review, and elsewhere. She lives in New Jersey with her daughter.
Top customer reviews
Judy was the mentor Leah never expected. She encouraged Leah’s dreams, analyzed her love life, and eased her into adulthood over long lunches away from the office. Facing the jarring disconnect between the life she expected and the one she is now actually living, Leah takes off for San Francisco to claim Judy’s car. In sprawling days defined by sex, sorrow, and unexpected delight, Leah revisits past lives and loves in search of a self she abandoned long ago. Piercing through Leah’s surreal haze is the enigmatic voice of Judy, as sharp as ever, providing wry commentary on Leah’s every move.
My Thoughts: The story of Leah’s life, with the good and bad choices, kept me engrossed as it jumped from college days, to six years later, and then ahead ten years.
Trailing along the path with her, we see how some of her most significant times involved working as an assistant to Judy in a San Francisco company. Judy was a mentor, guiding her, a voice in her head. And Judy had purchased a red sports car, a prized possession.
So now that Leah is in a marriage with a possessive man named Hans, there is hope for change when she gets a call about Judy’s death…and that Judy has left her the red car. But Leah will have to go to San Francisco to claim her legacy.
I hated how Hans reacted when she insisted on going alone. And after she goes, he bombards her with so many e-mails that it would be impossible for Leah not to see his reaction as a serious red flag.
Reconnecting with old friends, taking a trip to Big Sur, and attending the bat mitzvah of Judy’s niece in Philadelphia, as requested by Judy…all of these events help Leah to rediscover who she was. Meanwhile, why does Leah keep hearing Judy’s voice in her head, like a ghostly presence? And why does the red car seem to have a mind of its own?
Would Judy’s ongoing guidance, as well as the antics of the car, help Leah make the right choice going forward? The right choice would seem obvious, but we won’t know for sure what she decides until the very end. The Red Car: A Novel earned 4.5 stars from me.